Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's About Time

The early bird gets the worm, er, blueberry pie.
It's 4:30 a.m. in early November on my day off, and I'm asking myself "WTF am I doing awake right now???" This ridiculously antiquated daylight savings thingy has messed with my circadian rhythms so much so that for the past few days, I've been hitting the hay at 8:30 pm and rolling out of bed eight hours later. The crazy thing about changing time is that we don't even understand what time itself is. We've developed super-precise atomic clocks that are accurate to 0.0000000000000001 second, but scientists can only offer theories about time because guess why? Time isn't a natural phenomenon. It's a human invention that's morphed into a tool of social control. Sort of puts a new spin on hurrying and procrastination, doesn't it?

It's only been a little over a month since I published my last blog post. It's not that I haven't had anything to write about. I haven't had the time, and that's sort of shaken my world a bit. For the past 2 1/2 years, I've had a pretty light schedule, giving anesthesia three days a week and having the rest of my time to do with as I pleased. Having a schedule like this isn't normal in my line of work.

Being a physician is such hard work!
 "Lazy" and "physician" typically aren't words you'd use together in a sentence, but the compromise I worked out with my burned out self so I wouldn't quit medicine altogether did indeed involve me becoming just that: a lazy physician. Laziness has definitely had its perks. I no longer work in a hospital. I don't take call. I don't work on weekends or holidays. I sleep in my own bed at night, instead of a call room. I have days off during the week where I can sleep late and do whatever I want. It's really been a best-of-both worlds situation. The only thing that's really been challenging has been learning to survive on half of my previous income, especially since I've been paying two mortgages this entire time.

Six months ago, I decided I'd had enough of being a landlord, so I put my rental house back on the market. The loss of rental income has been incredibly painful. Living paycheck to paycheck has sucked, and it's a position I never thought I'd see myself in when I first became a practicing physician.

No explanation needed.
Since I wrote about my rental house ordeal pretty extensively in my last blogpost, I won't bore you with those details again. I do have some awesome news, though. My house went under contract on October 7, and is set to close in nine days. Free at last! Aside from one minor hiccup with the inspection (which cost me $900), everything's been moving along nicely. The final mortgage payment's been made, and I'm like a little kid at Christmas, counting the days before Santa's arrival.
The only bugaboo here is that I have to bring money to the closing table. Because I don't want to borrow against a credit card, I've had to shift gears from being lazy to modestly busy.

My light morning reading. Coffee is mandatory.
I won't lie. The past couple of weeks have been pretty intense. Not only have I started orienting in clinic for my upcoming new gig in interventional pain management, I've been working more at my regular job. I'm temporarily back to working five days a week, but surprisingly, it really hasn't been too terrible. I've been able to accumulate the funds I need for closing without having to go into debt. Acclimating to my new job has necessitated some case study and textbook reading, so I'm back on the learning curve. Thank goodness I didn't get rid of my old iPad. Instead of purchasing unwieldy hard copy textbooks, I downloaded cloud-based Kindle versions from amazon.com, so I can access them via my laptop, iPhone, or iPad. It's made reading, a task that I truly don't enjoy, much more convenient and even somewhat pleasurable.

I'm feeling excited about the work-related changes going on in my life, despite the stressful and time-consuming logistics of securing malpractice insurance. My current job contract specifies that I must secure tail insurance coverage upon leaving the practice. With tail insurance running around $28,000, I've been engaged in negotiations with my new employer to cover my tail on their policy so I won't have to pay the premium.

Chester, rescuing his fallen lens from a giant burrito.
Yesterday, I received confirmation that I was approved for prior acts coverage, obviating the need for separate tail insurance. Hallelujah!! Now I can finally sign my contract. I'll finish my current job in mid-December, and then, I'll drop back down to four days a week in my new position. That means I'll still have plenty of time for hanging out with my favorite people during the week.

After months of upheaval and barely scraping by, I feel like I can exhale again. The weight of my domicile and malpractice albatrosses have been lifted. I've successfully avoided foreclosure, which at one point was a serious consideration. I'm entering a new phase in my career, one that will eventually lead to board-certification in pain medicine. My professional tail is covered. Even though I'll be working one extra day a week at my new job, my income is going up considerably, so I'll be able to splurge on a few of the little luxuries I've been missing, like pedicures and massages. My feet resemble those of a yeti. My shoulders and back are constantly knotted up from weight-lifting. My 52nd birthday's coming up on Friday, so I'll be giving myself a spa day this weekend for sure. Woot! Like the autumn leaves falling from the trees right now, everything's relaxing into place. It's about time.